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UK to speed up return of illegal immigrants to India 

Britain is set to add the Asian country to its list of “safe states,” amid efforts to crack down on unfounded asylum claims 

Indians arriving in the UK illegally will be “swiftly” returned to their home country under new proposals presented by the British government. As part of draft legislation tabled to Parliament on Wednesday, India will be added to the list of “safe states” along with Georgia.   

The move comes amid the UK’s crackdown on illegal immigration, and is aimed at deterring people from crossing the border unlawfully and seeking asylum, the Home Office said.   


The ministry has recorded an increase in small boat arrivals from India and Georgia over the past year.  According to Home Secretary Suella Braverman, expanding the list of “safe states” will allow Britain to “more swiftly remove people” with no right to be in the country. “If you come here illegally, you cannot stay,” Braverman, who is of Indian origin, was quoted as saying by the Economic Times. 

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is also of Indian origin, has vowed to stop boats of migrants reaching the UK illegally, placing special emphasis on those crossing the English Channel in often treacherous conditions.

The unacceptable number of people risking their lives by making these dangerous crossings is placing an unprecedented strain on our asylum system,” the Home Office said earlier this year. In 2022, 45,756 migrants were recorded crossing the English Channel, UK government statistics revealed.  

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UK media reported in February that Indians had emerged as the third-largest migrant group crossing the Channel in small boats. Around 250 Indian migrants arrived in the UK using this method in January, more than the 233 who entered in small boats in the first nine months of 2022. 

The draft legislation presented to Parliament will undergo scrutiny through debates in both houses before taking effect, the official statement noted.  

A country is added to the UK’s list of “safe states” if the home secretary feels there is no “risk of persecution” against its nationals, and if sending migrants back to that country does not breach Britain’s obligations under the Human Rights Convention. The process is carried out under the UK’s Illegal Migration Act. Albania, Switzerland, and countries in the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) are currently among the “safe states” listed by the British government.  

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A 2021 pact between India and the UK obligated the latter to provide “enhanced employment opportunities” for 3,000 young Indian professionals annually, in return for New Delhi agreeing to take back any of its citizens living illegally in the UK. “The agreement will enhance and accelerate the processes to return Indian nationals with no legal right to stay in the UK and vice versa,” the UK government said at the time.

Priti Patel, the then-home secretary, claimed the “landmark agreement” would provide “new opportunities to thousands of young people in the UK and India seeking to live, work and experience each other’s cultures,” while allowing the British authorities to crack down on anyone abusing its immigration system.

November 10, 2023 at 08:10PM


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